11 May 2024

LEGO® Icons review: 10334 Retro Radio

Posted by tobymac

Long ago, in an era lost in time, before podcasts, Spotify and MP3s, people used magical boxes called "radios" to listen to music, the news and plays. 

Let's take a trip back in time as we build LEGO® Icons set 10334 Retro Radio. Stay tuned – as this is a time before the pause button or replay!

Products in this article were gifted by The LEGO Group; the author's opinions are their own.
This article contains affiliate links to LEGO.com; we may get a small commission if you purchase.

10334 Retro Radio
US$99.99/ €99.99/ £89.99/ AU$169.99
906 parts
Released 1 June 2024 

Set 10334 on LEGO.com


LEGO sets focused on retro items are not new; recent sets like 21327 Typewriter, 10306 Atari 2600 and 71374 Nintendo Entertainment System have shown that LEGO bricks are perfectly capable of capturing nostalgic objects. 

Whereas the gaming systems are a copy of the real life item, the Retro Radio is not an exact replica but an interpretation. Judging by style and color the radio appears to be based on models of the mid-1950s and early '60s, reminiscent of models like the 1961 Philips L3G03T and the Pam TB.81 and TP60. That’s a bit before my time, but I used to crack open a lot of the models from the late '70s/ early '80s to explore their insides. Just looking at this set brings back that smell of circuit boards and soldering irons.

The exterior features a lot of Light Aqua elements, with a total quantity of 126 parts spread across 23 different molds, making this set a nice parts pack if you are in need of some minty freshness.

At first sight, the radio appears to be just a pretty box, but this pile of LEGO® Technic parts suggests there is more going on behind that retro facade. 

Electric Sound Brick 4 x 4 (part 3677)

The only new mold is music to my ears, and sparks conversation. 


Sound bricks have been around for decades, coming in a lot of shapes and sizes. In March 2024, LEGO® Harry Potter™ set 76429 Talking Sorting Hat introduced the latest version: Sound Brick 4 x 4, seen in Medium Lavender and Dark Purple in the top image on the left. Pressing the button makes the brick play one of a number of random sounds, sorting the wearer of the hat into one of the Hogwarts Houses. This raised the question: was the brick specially developed for that set, or would we see more versions? 

That question is answered by today’s set, which gives us Sound Brick 4 x 4 in Light Aqua and Dark Bluish Gray (6488969), fittingly playing random radio fragments. 

Of course, I had to screw open the brick to see the inner workings. Inside we find a large black speaker, 3 button batteries, a circuit board and a white rubber button.

Pulling out the circuit board, we can see the underside, showing a chip and a small black button. I assume the chip stores all the sound fragments? I was hoping for connection points to hook a USB cable onto, or a Bluetooth module to hack the chip and change the sound fragments. As far as I can see, the only option would be to grab a soldering iron and replace the chip, but I’m far from an expert. Maybe someone can spot other options?


Another question the brick raises: how will we be able to distinguish different versions? There are no outside markers, other than the usual batch number that all pre-assembled parts feature. So far, the only clue seems to be color coding: The version from the sorting hat comes with a Medium Lavender and Dark Purple combo, while the radio has a Light Aqua and Dark Bluish Grey combo. As we will see later on in this review, the brick is hidden inside the radio, so the Light Aqua was not picked just to make it fit visually in the model. 

Another difference between the two versions is the way the fragments are played: the sorting hat version plays the full sound before the play button functions again, while the radio cuts off the fragment and starts playing the next when the button is pressed. 

I’m sure you are eager to hear all the sound fragments, so I kept pressing the button until I was pretty sure they all made a pass, something that took quite a while due to the randomness of the brick. 

Both the instructions and the box choose not to tell us how many different sound fragments there are, but I was able to distinguish 13, while the sorting hat comes with 31. For your convenience, I’ve cut out all the repeats. Note that the last 5 fragments start the same, but the far-fetched answers provided are different. The 2 radio static sounds are also different from each other.

Recolored elements

With so many Light Aqua parts, it’s not surprising they account for the majority of recolors:

  • 2x Brick Curved 2 x 4 x 1 1/3 with Curved Top in Light Aqua (6474267 | 6081)
  • 3x Plate 2 x 10 in Light Aqua (6355730 | 3832)
  • 4x Plate 1 x 1 x 2/3 with Open Stud in Light Aqua (6481909 | 86996)
  • 6x Slope Curved 2 x 2 Inverted in Light Aqua (647429 | 1750)
  • 12x Technic Brick 1 x 2 in Light Aqua (6474261 | 3700)

  • 3x Bracket 1 x 1 - 1 x 2 in Medium Nougat (6474266 | 79389)
  • 4x Technic Panel Fairing 2 x 3 x 1 in Medium Nougat (6474265 | 71682)
  • 1x Equipment Wand Sprue [Complete Set of 2] in Red (6474268 | 36752)
  • 1x (+1 spare) Bar 6L with Stop Ring in Flat Silver (6474270 | 63965)

I always like it when parts are used outside of their intended use, and the wand from LEGO Harry Potter has been spotted in multiple sets outside of the theme now. In fact, I’ve crushed the numbers, and in 13% of the sets that the mold appears in, the part is not used as a wand.

Decorated elements

All decorations come in the form of printed elements, there is no sticker sheet.

  • Tile 2 x 6 with Radio Frequencies print in Light Bluish Gray (6483022)
  • Tile 2 x 4 with Radio Frequencies print in Light Bluish Gray (6483023)
  • Tile 2 x 4 with LEGO print in Light Bluish Gray (6483024). The lettering is similar to the 2 x 4 tile found in 10290 Pickup Truck and 21338 A-Frame Cabin.
  • Tile 2 x 2 Curved, Macaroni with ON print in Light Bluish Gray (6483026)
  • Tile 2 x 2 Curved, Macaroni with OFF print in Light Bluish Gray (6483025)
  • Panel 1 x 2 x 1 with AM/FM print in Light Bluish Gray (6483027)
I'm told by our in-house expert, Ben Davies that the number ranges indicate we are building a shortwave radio.

Other elements of note

There are a couple of other elements that might interest you:

  • Bracket 1 x 2 - 1 x 2 Inverted in Light Aqua (6236033 | 99780) was only used in LEGO® BrickHeadz™ 41617 Elsa from 2018, and then let go.
  • Plate Special 2 x 2 x 2/3 with Two Studs On Side and Two Raised - Updated Version in Light Aqua (6470182 | 4304) was introduced in April 2024 in 76271 Gotham City.
  • Tile Special 1 x 1 with Clip with Rounded Edges in Bright Orange/ Orange (6472962 | 44842) is also pretty new, appearing in 76919 2023 McLaren Formula 1 Car which we will review soon. 

The build

The radio hides some intriguing building techniques. We start off with the inner structure, where we find a rather complex LEGO Technic setup that controls the dial, on/off switch and the sound brick.

Most of the inner workings are hidden beneath layers of bricks, so I recreated the model in BrickLink Studio and stripped it of all bricks, leaving only the Technic mechanism:

On the bottom right is the knob that controls the dial. Turn it, and the black worm gear block holding the red dial slides along the worm gear. The drivetrain moves further to the left, where we find another knob. This knob is the on/off switch. Through the orange gear shifter it can lock the red gear onto the drivetrain. The black rubber piece keeps the blue thin lift arm in one of 2 positions, so the gear shifter is always under the right 90 degree angle. It also gives the knob the needed 'click' feeling, rather than a smooth turn.

When the red gear is locked, it transfers the movement of the dial downwards through the blue gears onto a brick-built knob gear. The knobs fit around the little assembly next to it. If the dial is turned, the knobs push the assembly downwards, where the Light Cover with Internal Bar at the bottom pushes the play button of the sound brick.

I truly love this mechanism. It’s so well-thought out, and makes the build so more interesting than a display model needs to be.


A clever part usage can be found underneath the on/off knob in order to get the gear shifter in the right position. The tow ball hits the protruding edge of the roller-skate at just the right angle. A regular plate would allow the tow ball to move too far. Seeing the roller-skate is also protruding on the other side, a small assembly is built around it to anchor it in place.

Be honest, when you first saw the radio did you expect to find this on the inside?



We end up with a bare inner structure. In the following steps, the bodywork is placed. The sides, top and bottom are pre assembled and wrapped around the chassis.


Next up is the front panel. The white section is held in place using axles. A clever technique, but I wish the axles would come in Light Aqua too. You could see them as screw tops I suppose. 

Just like in a real radio, the grill has a rounded open space underneath for a more clear sound from the speaker. In the back, more Technic parts are found.


Above the white section comes the final piece of panel, clicked into place on clips. The AM/FM switch is another nice parts usage, made from a minifigure flipper. The antenna in the back uses the recolored Flat Silver Bar 6L, but the hollow stud and round tile on top unfortunately are still Light Bluish Grey.

With a handle bar added, the radio is ready for display. 

The only thing left is placing the sound brick in the back. It can easily be taken out to replace the batteries, or switched out with other sound bricks if you want some new stations to listen to. 

The cover on the back can be removed, and inside we find a holder for your phone. Play some tunes or a podcast, and the model becomes a real radio.

Conclusion

LEGO Icons set 10334 Retro Radio is a good looking model using some clever building techniques. But that's just the surface. This could easily have been just a display piece, but the designer Đặng Hoàng and the team went out of their way to add more to the set than meets the eye using Technic functionality, and that extra effort is well appreciated. 

The set comes with a decent amount of new elements. The new sound brick is an exciting addition, bringing life to the set. Fans of Light Aqua are particularly well served with 5 recolors and existing elements in high quantities. I'm not a fan of the Light Aqua casing personally, but it is fitting for the type of radio.

The printed parts are beautiful, but might be tricky to use outside of their intended purpose. Of course I welcome you to prove me wrong with some creative solutions. There are a lot of Technic elements to be found as well, but none of them are really rare, and you are probably cheaper off getting them from a Technic set. 

In closing: I am an '80s kid, so I don’t have any nostalgia for this type of radio. Maybe more versions could be released? If so, may I do a suggestion from my most treasured childhood memory?


10334 Retro Radio
US$99.99/ €99.99/ £89.99/ AU$169.99
906 parts
Released 1 June 2024 

Set 10334 on LEGO.com

READ MORE: LEGO® Pick a Brick are deleting more than 300 elements in late June 2024

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2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great review, the video clips were great. I feel they went above and beyond with the working mechanisms and space for a modern phone.
    Did you notice that guitar track is a retro version of 'Everything is Awesome' from the Lego Movie?
    btw I think I had the dual cassette version (tape to tape!) of that same radio/cassette player!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Other Mike13 May 2024, 01:58:00

    "Bracket 1 x 2 - 1 x 2 Inverted in Light Aqua (6236033 | 99780) was only used in LEGO® BrickHeadz™ 41617 Elsa from 2018, and then let go." I guess they couldn't hold it back any more.

    ReplyDelete